They faced strong opponents in the
Portuguese league leaders,
who had already gone past the 100-goal mark in all competitions this season, and only been beaten at home by Spanish heavyweights Barcelona in the Champions League.
But the visitors started the brighter in a rain-soaked Lisbon and went ahead when Cisse poked in at the back post for his 11th goal of the season after Sissoko burst free down the right flank and put in a perfect low cross.
Pardew's side threatened repeatedly on the counter-attack as they looked to take advantage of the high defensive line favoured by the hosts.
They went close to a second when Cisse's shot was deflected on to the post at full stretch by centre-back Ezequiel Garay, after the Senegal international was found by Jonas Gutierrez.
Stung into action, Benfica increased the tempo and equalised when the rusty Krul pushed Cardozo's 20-yard shot into the path of former Bolton loanee Rodrigo, who reacted quickest to side-foot into an open net.
The goal ended Newcastle's hopes of a club-record fifth consecutive clean sheet in Europe.
If the Magpies were slightly lucky to go in level at half-time, they threatened after the break as Cisse burst into space and confidently chipped past goalkeeper Artur, only to find the post again.
The last time Newcastle made the quarter-finals of a European competition they fell to Portuguese opposition as Sporting Lisbon claimed a 4-2 aggregate victory in 2005
Benfica then turned the game around with two quick-fire goals just after the hour mark as Newcastle imploded.
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